By Beth Treffeisen
Special to the Gazette
The City Council held a hearing on Wednesday, May 2 at City Hall.
- The Boston Police Department will accept and expend $850,000 from the Boston Regional Intelligence Center Allocation. The grant will fund upgrading, expanding, and integrating technology and protocols related to anti-terrorism, anti-crime, anti-gang and emergency response. (Assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice)
- The City Council voted to approve $99,314 from U.S. Department of Justice to fund Address Verification Program activities mandated by the MA Sex Offender Registry Board.
- The City Council also approved to accept and expend $130,253 from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to fund 356 RSVP volunteers who will provide social support to homebound or older adults and individuals with disabilities.
- The Mayors Office of Arts and Culture will accept and expand $5,000 from the MA Cultural Council to fund programming in the Roxbury Cultural District and $5,000 from the Boston Foundation to fund the original creation of contemporary artwork by emerging artists.
Supporting Human Rights in Honduras
The City Council voted to adopt the resolution Councilor Lydia Edwards filed to urge the U.S. Congress to pass H.R. 1299, the Berta Caceres HumanRights in Honduras Act.
Honduras has been experiencing an unprecedented level of insecurity and violence. In the aftermath of the election, there were 192 repressed demonstrations, resulting in over 1,250 arrests, 38 people killed, 393 people injured, 76 victims of torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, 15 journalists assaulted, and more.
The Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Hank Johnson, would prohibit funds from being made available to Honduras for the police and military (including equipment and training), and direct the Department of the Treasury to vote against multilateral loans to Honduras for its police and military, until the Department of State certifies that the government of Honduras has taken certain steps to promote accountability, dignity, freedom of speech and human rights.
“Our U.S. government will soon take away TPS (temporary protected status) for current Hondurans who live here,” said Edwards. “It will only further eliminate the foundation and their futures here in this country, potentially departing thousands of people – some of who live in my neighborhood.”
The City Council met on Wednesday, April 25.
Summer Violence and Community Engagement
Councilors Matt O’Malley and Kim Janey filed a hearing order to discuss summer violence and explore ways to strengthen community empowerment.
The councilors spoke about how violence is an ongoing issue that creates traumatic impact on families and communities.
“Summer is coming and we know that we are going to see some increase in violence and crime,” said O’Malley. “What can we do to prevent them? What can we do to make this city safer? Let’s look at the trends and figure out concrete strategies. Community policing was born here and, in. my opinion, done better here than any other city in the planet.”
The City of Boston encourages a public health approach to youth violence prevention and focuses on using City resources to connect youth with social services and jobs in the summer.
“There is a fear of what happens when the warm weather comes and that’s a shame,” said Janey. “I don’t think it is sounding the alarm at all and I do think it is important to be proactive not only with police groups but community groups as well.”
The matter has been assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice for a hearing.
Flexible payment plans for late property tax payments
Councilor Lydia Edwards filed a hearing order for the adoption of flexible payment plans for property tax arrears.
Edwards spoke on the significant number of low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners that have property tax arrears owed to the City.
Boston already works with homeowners in tax arrears but currently is only able to offer on-year payment plans that require a 25 percent down payment to address the owed taxes. The interest rate of tax arrears cam be as high as 16 percent and the City can adopt more flexible payment plans and the ability to forgive up to 50 percent of accrued interest pursuant to state law.
“We shouldn’t have people running away running away from obligations,” said Edwards. “We need to provide mechanisms to allow people to pay their taxes.”
The matter was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means for hearing.